The Best Sedona Off-Road Trails for Jeeps and 4×4’s

friends in a jeep driving on a sedona off-road trail

The barren desert of Sedona, Arizona is famous for its towering red rock formations and majestic canyons. The famous Highway 179, also known as the Red Rock Scenic Byway, which winds through miles of these magnificent rocks and gives visitors a chance to view them up close. But what if you want to go beyond the highway and explore the desert further?

I remember my first-time off-roading in Sedona. I was still considered a “novice”, and I was extremely nervous to get off the highway, and really had no idea what to expect.

Since then, I’ve explored most of the area’s off-road trails with my Jeep. I’ve found that the vast majority of the Sedona off-road adventures are accessible to any 4×4 vehicle; even my little Suzuki Samurai (I know, I know).

*WARNING: Before you go out on any trails, please read through my list of essentials here. I could save your life!

Today, I want to share with you the best Sedona off-road trails to explore. If you’re ever in the area, be sure to check them out!

Best Sedona Off-Road Jeep Trails

  1. Devils Bridge
  2. Schnebly Hill Route OHV Route
  3. Broken Arrow OHV
  4. Outlaw OHV Trail
  5. Van Deren Cabin OHV Trail
  6. Diamondback Gulch OHV Trail

I’ll explain more about what each trail has to offer in the section below.

Devils Bridge

Devils Bridge happens to be the biggest sandstone arch within the Sedona part of the Coconino National Forest.

Devils Bridge is a fine choice to admire the best that Red Rock country has to offer.

The route itself is fairly easy to complete. However, there is a bit of a steep slope towards the final part of the journey. The trailhead commences from Dry Creek Road FR 152, where the unpaved part begins. You will need generous ground clearance to go past this part, so make sure that you tweak the suspensions of your trusty jeep.

Just in case you don’t have the requisite clearance to take on this challenging course, you can park at the Dry Creek Road trailhead parking lot. You can even park your vehicle in the Mescal Trailhead situated in Long Canyon Road. If you choose to stop your vehicle at Mescal Trailhead, then be sure to follow the Mescal to Chuckwagon Trail for meeting this route.

Starting from the parking lot, follow directions for Devil’s Bridge Trail. The initial part of the trail is pretty smooth, so you will have no problems here. You can’t miss the distinctive prickly pear cactus and junipers that abound here.

Once you reach the bridge base, you can take the staircase from where you can enjoy the fine view. You will then come across another stairs level from where you can reach the bridge.

Since this trail is so popular and a major tourist attraction, take care that you come early to avoid big crowds. You will likely find a large mass of humanity taking pictures on the bridge. So this is a really decent spot, except that there are often lots of people.

Dogs are allowed on this trail. However, bear in mind that some steps are pretty steep. Be sure that your dog will not have trouble with these.

a sign pointing to the Schnebly Hill off-road jeep trailSchnebly Hill Route OHV Route

The 19 kilometers long Schnebly Hill Route OHV Route is a moderately difficult course near Sedona. There is heavy traffic here on this point-to-point trail, so be warned.

The trail is suitable for both off-road fun and hiking. While driving your jeep, look out for hikers and keep your distance.

The beauty of this route is that lots of pretty flowers embellish the rugged scene. Another great feature is that this route is open for the whole year.

The scenic view here is absolutely fabulous. With towering rock formations jutting against a deep green forest background under the azure sky, this is certainly Arizona at its finest. The fantastic desert panorama is quite a sight to behold.

You can embark on this trail from Interstate 17. Make sure that your jeep has good ground clearance to keep the bottom safe from rocks. Although there are some narrow parts, there is nothing that your good old jeep cant handle easily. Even stock 4 wheel drives will not see too many problems.

This classic trail in Sedona gives you spectacular views of the vivid red rocks that define the stunning background of the region.

While you are here, make sure that you visit Merry Round Rock. This is a popular tourist destination owing to the spectacular formation of red rocks. It is said that an Elvis movie was filmed here. You can still see the anchor holes where cameras were planted for filming.

The Schnebly Hill Vista is another destination to visit for avid off-road drivers. As the name suggests, it offers a breathtaking panorama of Sedona. You can enjoy a marvelous perspective of the region from a height of 2,000 feet at this place. You can go to the top where you will end up at Mogollon Rim, from where you can Red Rock Country in all its glory.

Avid nature fans will want to see the ponderosa pine forest, juniper trees as well as pinion pine trees that are abundant here.

When exiting the place, you can turn back, or you can go forward for 7 miles through ponderosa forest and take I-17.

Broken Arrow OHV

The 10.8 kilometers long Broken Arrow OHV Route does not have very heavy traffic. The driving difficulty here is moderate. The natural scenery is wonderful, and you may be lucky enough to see some wildlife.

So you can dabble in bird watching during your off-road spree. This is a great trail to drive your jeep on. Make sure that your jeep has enough clearance to avoid scrapes at the bottom.

Driving and sightseeing are both rewarding since the trail is challenging enough for a fun ride without being too hard while the surrounding scenery is simply fabulous. Although traffic here is moderate, the trail is very much worth it. Don’t miss this trail.

Outlaw OHV Trail

The 37 kilometer Outlaw OHV Trail is a great place for off-road fun and bird watching. Traffic here is moderate and there are plenty of beautiful flowers dotting the scene. The loop trail has moderate driving difficulty.

For a great day of off-road driving, you can take this trail and link up with Diamondback Gulch. The Outlaw Trail is fairly easy but the Diamondback Gulch is more challenging. So going this route is a good idea if you are looking for a more hardcore driving challenge.

The initial part of the trail is a bit rough, but overall it is a pretty straightforward drive. You may have guessed that outlaws frequented this path if local folklore is to be believed. As you start driving on the trail, you will notice plenty of red rocks in the distance. As you travel this path, you will come close to these beautiful rocks that sport a vibrant hue.

Van Deren Cabin OHV Trail

The 8.9-kilometer-long Van Deren Cabin OHV Trail sports scenic views and is fairly easy to drive on. There is light traffic so there won’t be much disruption to your driving experience. The trail is open for off-road driving for the whole year.

You can bring your dog along if that is a must. However, you must keep it leashed.

The trail itself is moderately challenging but not overly difficult at some points, as certain trails are. Thus, the trail makes for a fun ride. You may want to keep the tire pressure low to tread easily over the rocky path.

You will have to contend with plenty of hikers along the way. However, since the path is wide enough, you can keep a safe distance from trekking folks.

Diamondback Gulch OHV Trail

As mentioned previously, you can combine Diamondback Gulch Trail with the Outlaw Trail if a want a balanced ride that has its fair share of challenges.

The 14.8-kilometer long Diamondback Gulch Trail does not have excessive traffic. Driving difficulty is more challenging than Outlaw Trail, but it is not the hardest.

You may be able to witness some wildlife along the way. The trail is available for off-road fun the whole year-round. You can bring your dog along too but make sure that it is leashed.

You can embark on the Diamondback Gulch trail either from the north or the south. If you have started early in the day, then starting from the south is a better idea. But later on in the day, when the sun is lower, you may want to enter the trail from the north. By doing so, you can prevent the direct glare of the sun.

Nature lovers will want to look out for cinder cones, and small volcanic vents spewed out lave a long time back. A diverse network of off-road trails is present at Sedona for driving fun along with wonderful views of the desert region. There are plenty of attractions that you will want to see along the way.

Final Thoughts

While driving difficulty is overall fairly easy, you will want to be careful in the area and avoid building up too much speed. Be mindful of the people living here. Too much speed throws dust everywhere, which can be annoying to others. Also, you will want to remain on the right of the law by paying attention to speed.

The Forest Service stipulates a 25 mile per hour speed limit. If you exceed this speed limit, you could end up with a ticket. Keep within the speed limit for your safety and that of others. You don’t have to go too fast for fun.

Mark Anders

I love my Jeep and will share my years of knowledge with you here! Stay with me and read on!

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